Shallenberger State Nature Preserve
Lancaster, Ohio 43130
Facilities - Parking lot and trail system.
Jay Shallenberger, the areas original owner, wanted to see it both preserved and open for the enjoyment and education of Ohioans. His wishes were carried out by the Fairfield County Commissioners who received the land after his death. Early in 1973, the commissioners transferred the property to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a scenic state nature preserve and it is managed by the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.
More than 300 million years ago this portion of Ohio lay under the waters of a vast inland ocean. Large sand deltas were deposited by streams flowing into the ancient seas. Over millions of years, compaction of these sand deltas fused the sand into rock, creating the Black Hand sandstone formation found in Ohio today. The oceans have long since disappeared and the subsequent weathering of this massive sandstone formation by water, wind and temperature extremes has created striking gorges, overhangs, rock shelters, promontories and waterfalls, best known in the Hocking Hills region.
At Shallenberger, the long process of weathering produced Allen Knob, a promontory of highly resistant sandstone, and the smaller adjacent Ruble Knob. Allen Knob towers 240 feet above the surrounding countryside and provides an impressive vista of the central Ohio lowland plains to the west. While this major feature of the preserve owes its origin to an ancient marine environment, the preserve also shows the effects of the last major glacial period. More than 10,000 years ago great sheets of ice, in some places more than 1 mile thick, covered portions of Ohio. Shallenberger lies at their southeastern limit. The tops of Allen and Ruble knobs apparently remained free of ice. However, their bases were buried under an end moraine, an accumulation of rock, gravel and sand debris which was frozen in glacial ice and deposited at the melting front of the ice sheet. In a more subtle way, the plant communities at Shallenberger also reflect the influence of glaciation. The unglaciated tops and steep sides of Allen and Ruble knobs have thin, rocky soils low in moisture and nutrients. Chestnut oak and mountain laurel, a flowering shrub more commonly found in the Appalachian mountains, are abundant on the knobs. However, few other woody species have gained a foothold. The knobs also provide habitat for a number of ferns, including polypody, ebony spleenwort and walking fern.